Follow TV Tropes


Comic Book / The Kill Lock

Go To

The Kill Lock is a six-issue comic book miniseries by Livio Ramondelli, published by IDW Publishing. The first issue was released in December 2019, and all six issues were collected in a trade paperback that was released in November 2020.

Set in a futuristic galaxy inhabited entirely by sentient robots, the series follows four android criminals who are exiled from their homeworld and sentenced to the "Kill Lock" - a programming protocol that links them together, so that if one of the four dies, the other three do as well. Forced to work together to survive, the four - an alcoholic Laborer droid, a psychopathic Artisan droid, a powerful Wraith soldier unit, and an Unfinished child droid nicknamed "the Kid", sentenced simply for being created imperfect - scour the galaxy in the hopes of finding a cure that can undo the Kill Lock, encountering many other vicious and unscrupulous robots on their quest. Along the way, they'll discover that relying on each other may just get them all killed anyway...

A sequel series, entitled The Kill Lock: The Artisan Wraith, was released in 2022.

This comic provides examples of:

  • Absent Aliens: It's never explored where the all-powerful Forgers came from, or, indeed, who created the android society, and yet, there seems to be no hint of any other forms of life on the planets we see.
  • A.I. Getting High: The robots in this universe can get drunk, best exemplified by the alcoholic Laborer. The black Artisan that the Artisan meets also smokes some form of cigarette.
  • Anti-Hero Team: The protagonists can all count as this (with the exception of the Artisan, who's pretty much a Villain Protagonist). They're simply trying to find a way to survive, but aren't above killing or destroying anyone who gets in their way.
  • The Alcoholic: The Laborer, whose drinking resulted in him causing an accident that killed 923 androids.After absorbing his mind, the Artisan-Wraith has developed a drinking habit while the mental image of the Laborer has lost interest in drinking since being absorbed.
  • Asshole Victim: When the Artisan launches the ship off of Rachis its thrusters incinerate dozens of bots. The Wraith objects to killing so many innocents, but the Artisan states that they were all probably criminals and heretics; the insincere justification is used to highlight the Artisan's lack of empathy for the lives lost.
  • The Atoner: The Wraith largely fills this role, due to his regret over the many lives that he has taken as a member of the Legion. This is compounded by the revelation that he turned on his Legion so as to save two innocent Unfinished child droids on a world the Legion was scouring.
  • Break the Cutie: The Kid is forced to endure many traumatic events over the course of the story, but the biggest one is undoubtedly the Artisan showing him how the Kill Lock actually works, by straight-up murdering a member of another group of Locked that they encounter, causing the Lock to go off in the others.
  • Caped Mecha: Certain robots wear capes in the story while the Artisan and the Wraith wear cloaks to conceal their distinct forms and the red marks that condemn them. In the sequel series, The Artisan-Wraith wears what's explicitly pointed out to be a cape, with the Laborer noting how childish it is and speculating that it's the other processors in his head, namely the Kid's, influencing his actions.
  • The Chessmaster: The final issue reveals that the Artisan, upon discovering that the group of Locked on Scoria had figured out how to transfer a processor into another's body, assembled the Kill Lock group himself, killed his victims, and allowed himself to be captured; he was then able to manipulate his companions to head to Scoria under the pretense of finding the cure for the Lock (when in reality, he simply needed to find out exactly how that group's Artisan had managed to merge processors). Once gaining this knowledge, he was then able to convince them to have their processors installed in the Wraith, giving him a vastly more powerful form upon taking over the Wraith's body for himself.
  • Crapsack World: Crapsack galaxy, more like. The androids are all created for a specific purpose by the Forgers, and are never allowed to deviate from their function. Those that do are either exiled and sentenced to the Kill Lock, or, even worse, if there's enough of them, wiped from existence by the Wraith Legion. This isn't to mention the fact that being created with the smallest flaw leads to a droid being outcast as an Unfinished and sentenced to a Kill Lock themselves.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: The Wraith's specialty. The scavengers in the first issue don't even get a chance to fight back.
  • Cyber Cyclops: The Artisan. The creepiness factor is ramped up by the fact that he has long, needle-like teeth as well.
  • The Dreaded: The Wraith Legion, who scour entire worlds of inhabitants they deem heretical.
  • Easily Detachable Robot Parts: Seems to be a design standard for many robots; the Kid has his arm stolen, and once it's retrieved, the Artisan is able to reattach it with very little effort. Likewise, during their fight, the Laborer is able to punch out the Artisan's knee, but his leg is later shown to be fine with no consequence.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: There is strong camaraderie amongst the Wraith Legion. The Wraith in story feels regret for killing one of his brothers to save some kids and in spite of that crime, many of the other Wraiths objected to his sentencing as they would lose their brother to the Justice System of the Forgers. News that the Artisan has taken the Wraith's body pushes them to wage war against the Artisan-Wraith.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: The Zenith, leader of the Legion, approaches his holy duty with a single-mindedness that has left millions dead. However he, like the Wraith, does not like killing children. While it's ultimately the promise of the Artisan to return the Wraith to the Legion that spurs his betrayal, the orders to kill children had already caused the Zenith's loyalty to fray. Further, the Zenith sympathized with the Wraith's decision to defend the children even if he had to kill a fellow Wraith.
    "I stood in command of an army tasked with the killing of children. And I am now finished ordering that command."
  • Foreshadowing: The reveal of the Artisan's plan to take over the Wraith's body is hinted at quite a bit before the final issue:
    • Early in the story, he makes a comment about how, if he could do what the Wraith can, he "wouldn't behave", setting up how he intends to use the Wraith's body to strike back against the Forgers.
    • Before they approach Rachis, the Artisan is shown studying scans of the four's brain processors, claiming to be trying to figure out the Kill Lock. This would actually have put him in the perfect position to see if their processors would be able to co-exist in the one form.
    • His attitude towards the Kid also makes sense once it's revealed that he assembled the Kill Lock group, and had chosen a different android for the fourth, based on how easy they would be to manipulate. The Kid being thrown in created a variable that he couldn't control, although it does end up leading to a more effective result.
  • His Name Really Is "Barkeep": None of the androids we meet in the story have names, they're simply referred to by the class of android they are.
  • Laughably Evil: The Artisan is the evilest of the group and also the series's primary comic relief.
  • Machine Blood: Displayed very liberally throughout the series.
  • Marked to Die: All recipients of the Kill Lock are marked with a distinctive symbol on their chest. Although receiving it doesn't mean they necessarily will die (especially if the group can keep their heads down), it does seem to drive up the likelihood of being attacked by more unsavory elements.
  • Morality Pet: The Kid plays this role to the others, especially the Wraith, who dedicates himself to the quest for finding a cure to the Kill Lock solely to help the Kid survive.
  • Pet the Dog: It's hard to tell where self-interest ends and this trope begins for the Artisan. When the Kid is fatally impaled, the Artisan quickly turns off his pain receptors, while the action helps earn the Artisan more trust, the author also notes that he did it to ease their suffering.
  • Recursive Creators: Although we never actually see them, it's assumed that the Forgers are this. The Artisan class also has a hand in designing new droids as well.
  • Religious Robot: The Wraith Legion are dedicated to the Forgers on a level that pretty much borders on this. They even refer to those who oppose or secede from the Forgers as "heretics", and their destruction of these worlds is treated much like a holy crusade. To emphasize this, the Wraith's dialogue is presented in a font designed to evoke classical Christian texts.
  • Ridiculously Human Robots: Despite being machines, all of the robots in this universe are basically like humans in nearly every regard: they have actual personalities, swear, feel pain and emotions, and are even able to consume alcohol. It's not a stretch to imagine their society being evolved from Bender.
  • Robot Kid: All droids start out as child-like Unfinished before they're given a classification. One of the four is an Unfinished who was created with an accidental flaw.
  • Robotic Psychopath: The Artisan, and how. His Establishing Character Moment has him disabling the voice and eyes of a completely innocent Miner droid, before presumably killing him, just because he can.
  • Sherlock Scan: The Artisan literally has this ability, able to scan every aspect of a droid and pinpoint all of their weaknesses. Notably, he can't do this with the Wraith (due to Wraith specs being highly classified) or the two Leviathans (due to their extensive shielding).
  • Single-Task Robot: Every droid in society is one of these, being given a class that determines their function for the rest of their lives. Those who choose to reject this inevitably end up either dead or in exile.
  • Sir Swears-a-Lot: The Artisan can barely finish a sentence without dropping some form of profanity.
  • Token Evil Teammate: The Artisan fits the bill, although he's less "evil" and more "amoral psycho".
  • Unskilled, but Strong: The heroes encounter a pair of Leviathan-class bots in issue 4; the class is built for deep space exploration and can withstand incredibly strong pressure. The duo are heavily upgraded with the armor and weapons of hundreds of bots sentenced to Kill Lock, with the Artisan noting that he can't see the weak points on them that he can for most bots. The fight contrasts them with the Strong and Skilled Wraith who's a more seasoned fighter and his armor is forged to be tough instead of patched together.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: All governing bodies are some degree of evil but all cultivate a popular image that earns them a following.
    • The Forgers run a deeply corrupt society that sentences children to death for being imperfect. However, they run the only society that most of the robots know and they can't help but feel grateful for being created.
    • The Wraith Legion burns thousands of worlds for "degeneracy," but to many citizens, they're idolized as great peacekeepers and holy men.
    • The Artisan-Wraith actively cultivates this reputation, especially amongst the outcasted robots who hate the Forgers and the Wraith Legion. When he starts his colony hundreds of robots flock to it as he gives them purpose, and protection, and allows them to live free of the discrimination that the Forger's society enforces.
  • Weak, but Skilled: The Artisan's extensive knowledge of robotic anatomy allows him to see the weak points of most bots and he can kill or disable them with a touch. He's also got one of the weakest bodies of the robots in the universe with the Artisan himself feeling that this was by design so people like him wouldn't be too powerful. This is a key part of his motivation to have his consciousness uploaded into a Wraith's body; to have the power he felt he was denied.
  • Wham Line: The Artisan reveals to his black counterpart that not only did he know that the other group was on Scoria, he was trying to find them all along, so that he could figure out how the black Artisan had managed to contain two conciousnesses in one body, summarizing with one line...
    Artisan: And even as he heard this story being told to his face, right now, the dumb Artisan still thought the clever Artisan came to this world looking for the fucking cure...
  • Would Hurt a Child: Practically every hostile droid they encounter has no qualms about trying to harm the Kid, although this seems to have a lot to do with defective droids being looked down upon by the rest of robot society.
  • Wretched Hive: Rachis, which is described as a party planet, filled with casinos, bars, and all other manner of illicit entertainment. The Wraith mentions that the only reason one of his Legion would ever visit it would be to raze it.